Google Assistant: A Closer Look

Google Assistant: A Closer Look

Google Assistant first appeared on the scene in 2016. Originally a part of the Google Home smart speaker, it made the leap to smartphones a few months later with the arrival of Google's first handsets, the Pixel and Pixel XL. The tech giant has been busy refining its virtual assistant over the past year, and it’s now available on more smartphones than ever before. The arrival of Google's latest smartphones - Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL - has heralded a host of updates for this super-smart feature.

What is Google Assistant?

If you're into tech, you'll be aware that Google Assistant isn't Google's first experience with a virtual personal assistant. Back in 2012, Google Now was released for Android and eventually, for iOS. Google Now could perform many tasks, from scheduling appointments and sending messages to finding information on nearby restaurants.

What Google Now couldn't do was really get to know its user - and this is where Google Assistant comes in. Google Assistant can do everything Google Now could, and so much more. Google Assistant can actually carry out a two-way conversation with you, and the more you use it, the more it will get to know your interests and daily habits.

Which devices offer Google Assistant?

Google Assistant is available on a whole range of smartphones. Some, like the Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL and the Samsung Galaxy S8 come with Google Assistant already installed, while devices using Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) and beyond can download the voice assistant on the Google Play store. There's good news if you have an iPhone too - just head to the App Store and you'll find Google Assistant ready to download.

Google Assistant isn't restricted to phones however - you can use it with a whole bunch of tech. It's pre-loaded onto Google's Pixel Buds and powers Google Home. You'll also find it on a handful of smartwatches, such as the LG Watch Sport, which use Android Wear 2.0.

How to use Google Assistant

There are hundreds of things you can do with Google Assistant, but to get started all you need to do is say 'OK Google'. If you're using Google's new Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, you can even squeeze both sides of the phone to activate the assistant.

The simple commands are obvious - if you like you can send messages, set a timer, play music and so much more. Google Assistant is different though because it actually acts like an assistant, rather than a voice-activated search engine.

What can Google Assistant do:

Find a place to eat

Ask Google Assistant what you should have for dinner, and it'll locate available restaurants in your local area - presenting you with an entire list of options nearby. If you want to make a booking, it can even arrange this for you using OpenTable.

Let Google Assistant jog your memory

More intelligent than a regular reminder, Google Assistant will make sure you never forget something or misplace an item again. Simply say 'Ok Google' and pass on the details, then Google Assistant will recall the information once asked.

Play your favourite show on Netflix

Opening apps is easy with Google Assistant, but you can be a lot more specific than that. For example, if you say 'Play Stranger Things 2 on Netflix', Google Assistant will not only launch the app, but your preferred show too.

Translate a real-time conversation

Google's Pixel Buds, announced with the Pixel 2, have Google Assistant built-in. They utilise the assistant's amazing ability to translate over 100 languages, so if you're with someone who speaks a different language, you can press the right earbud as they speak and receive an instant translation.

Curious to know more about Google's latest releases? Take a look at our in-depth guide to Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Google Home and Google Assistant

Google Home is much more than an advanced speaker. Fuelled by Google Assistant, it can carry out tons of tasks. Just like Google Assistant on a smartphone, you can ask Google Home all the basics - check the weather, receive a traffic update, add an item to a shopping list and more. It really comes alive when paired with other tech though - particularly with smart homes. You can adjust your thermostat if you use Nest, turn on your lights or switch off your TV from another room.

Google Assistant also recognises multiple voices, which is great if you share Google Home with family or flatmates. Google Assistant will personalise its response to each individual, remembering key facts and preferences.

If you say 'OK Google. Tell me about my day', Google Home will provide a rundown of the weather, estimated travel time for your commute to work or school and list daily reminders and meetings from your calendar. If another family member asks the same question however, it'll provide an entirely different response.

Eager to try out Google Assistant for yourself? You can find it on many of the latest smartphones, all available at eye-catching prices over on